NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: Report: Celtics may be on outs in any Love deals — From the moment Kevin Love visited Boston on vacation a few weeks ago (and shared a brief hello with Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo at a Boston Red Sox game), the popular sentiment around Boston was that it had the inside track on landing Love. But according to Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald, the team’s chances of landing the somewhat-disgruntled Minnesota Timberwolves power forward isn’t looking too hot:
The reality, however, is that this may be not be a blockbuster summer for the Celts. They may very well be left with a slower and steadier option as they seek to rebuild from their most recent run as a contender. And it may be their best choice.
The latest sparkler to be dimmed came when it was learned the Timberwolves are looking at other allegedly more palatable offers than that of the Celtics when considering a trade for Kevin Love. League sources from multiple sides told the Herald that Minnesota is seeking a player of substance as well as draft picks, if they are to part with their best player.
Those same sources cited Golden State and Denver, with others in the running, as well. The Celtics have expressed strong interest in Love, and they will continue working on a package that may entice the Timberwolves. But word is even a selection of picks, led by Nos. 6 and 17 overall this season, and either Jared Sullinger or Kelly Olynyk isn’t going to be enough.
Is there a chance that Minnesota changes its opinion on the type of rebuild it wants to do and begins to look more favorably on the Celtics’ assets? Possibly. But a week out from the draft, the Wolves were hoping for something different.
At this point, the Celts are looking to find out more precisely what it will take to get Love, so they can see if they can cobble together the proper pieces.
“Minnesota looks at it that the team who gets the best player wins the trade,” one source said. “If they do make this deal, they know they’re going to be giving up the best guy in Love. So the picks they get will be nice, but they also want to get back a guy they know can play, a guy with some kind of track record.”
To meet Minnesota’s apparent need, the Celts may have to get more creative and involve at least one other team. If the Wolves are not enamored of what the C’s have to offer for a player, Danny Ainge could try to find such a player on another club and tailor the transaction to get him to Minnesota.
There is all evidence from league sources that the Celtics are already looking at these possibilities.
But all signs point to next week’s draft being the most likely time the Wolves make a move with Love. If they realize they are eventually going to have to build without him, it makes sense to start the process now and take advantage of this draft.
That may also be the Celtics’ position a week from tonight. And it may be the best course of action if they hope to build a team that gets into the championship equation and has the kind of depth to stay there a while.
And, Bulpett also tweeted out these interesting nuggets (if you mind the pun) about Denver getting in the thick of the Love chase …
No. 2: ‘Melo briefly discusses meeting with Jackson — To the frustration of many NBA fans, Knicks star Carmelo Anthony has been mostly mum on his future this summer and whether or not he’ll stick with New York or sign elsewhere as a free agent. He made some brief comments to reporters on Wednesday night after attending a promotional event in New York, but as Marc Berman of the New York Post reports, there wasn’t a whole lot of news to be had:
Carmelo Anthony doesn’t want to discuss his plans for free agency, but said he had a “great” meeting Friday in Los Angeles with Knicks president Phil Jackson, new coach Derek Fisher and general manager Steve Mills.
At a promotional appearance in Manhattan Wednesday, Anthony told reporters, “It was a great meeting with Phil, it went well.’’
Anthony was also asked about the hiring of Fisher, but he kept it short. “I like what Phil is doing,’’ said Anthony.
The Post reported Knicks brass, including Fisher, were satisfied after the meeting with Anthony and like their odds of retaining him despite a Yahoo Sports report claiming he was “leaning’’ toward leaving and Houston and Chicago were at the top of his list.
Jackson, who is in Turkey to attend his son’s wedding, can offer Anthony a five-year, $129 million max deal. But Jackson doesn’t want to give Anthony the max because it will hurt the team’s 2015 and 2016 cap flexibility. Anthony has already said he’s willing to take a pay cut in order to sign another star or two.
The Post reported the Knicks and Rockets engaged in discussions on a deal for Omer Asik near the trade deadline, with Iman Shumpert one of the pawns. It’s doubtful the Knicks would want to accelerate Anthony’s departure by doing a sign-and-trade with Houston.
Anthony is on record saying his decision will be based on winning titles, but it’s unclear if Houston is that close to a championship in the rugged Western Conference.
No. 3: Young will opt out of deal, seeks multi-year contract with Lakers — The 2013-14 campaign for the Los Angeles Lakers was anything but fun at times, what with Kobe Bryant being out for all but six games, coach Mike D’Antoni and big man Pau Gasol having their share of tension all season and, oh yeah, a 27-55 finish at season’s end. One of the few bright spots, though, came from the play of swingman Nick Young, an L.A. native who was adored by Lakers fans for his style of play. Young tells the Los Angeles Daily News‘ Mark Medina that he plans to opt out of his deal this summer, but wants to stay with the Lakers:
Though he considers the Lakers “his first choice,” Young will opt out of his $1.2 million player option before the June 25 deadline. That would allow Young both to test the open market as an unrestricted free agent beginning July 1 and possibly leverage a larger deal with the Lakers. Young sounded specific with what he hoped the Lakers could offer after averaging a team-leading 17.9 points on 43.4 percent shooting primarily as a backup forward.
“Just more years. I believe I deserve more,” Young said Wednesday in an interview with this newspaper. “That’s up to my agent to do that for me. The Lakers are home, but things could happen. With free agency this year, it’s going to be crazy to see.”
“I think I could stick to my same role and help out Kobe,” Young said. “He has to come out of the game sometime. If they get another good player, they have to come out of the game sometime. I’ll be their Jamal Crawford. The Clippers have a Sixth Man of the Year. The Lakers need to have one too.”
The Lakers generally like Young for his prolific scoring, positive attitude and entertainment value. Case in point, Lakers Nation, a fan site, promoted a so-called “Stay Swag” campaign that Young called “dope.” But the Lakers feel reluctant to offer any role player, such as Young, more than a one-year deal. The Lakers want to maximize cap flexibility to pursue high profile players, such as LeBron James in 2014, Kevin Love in 2015 or Kevin Durant in 2016.
Young sounded serious about considering a hometown discount.
“It depends how much the discount is,” Young said. “But as a player, everyone wants a place they feel comfortable at. I feel comfortable in L.A. But I can’t keep taking these discounts. I need a raise a little bit. But if it’s for the right cost and they’re bringing in players and I fit into the rotation, then I’ll probably take a pay cut.”
No. 4: West pays Popovich the ultimate compliment — When Hall of Famer Jerry West says something, people tend to take notice. When West doles out a compliment to a coach — and keep in mind, West employed Pat Riley and Phil Jackson at separate times during his Lakers executive days — it means even more, perhaps. In an appearance on ESPN Radio with Colin Cowherd, West paid Spurs coach Gregg Popovich perhaps the best compliment yet (especially when you consider West’s pedigree):
Between his Hall of Fame career and his role in building and maintaining multiple championship dynasties with the Lakers, it can be argued that Jerry West is perhaps the single most accomplished individual in NBA history.
At the very least, he knows good basketball when he sees it. And from his standpoint, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has no peer. Speaking today with Colin Cowherd on ESPN radio:
“I’ve never seen a better coach than Gregg Popovich. He does less than more. But having said that, when he gets less, he develops it into something really good. They have a great development program down there.
For a coach coming into this league, if they don’t hire people who are really competent, to take these young kids who haven’t made it somewhere but have talent and build a system they can prosper in, but more importantly to get these kids shoot the ball. When they got Kawhi Leonard, he was not a shooter. It tells you the significance of what they’ve done internally to improve their team.”
SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: When he’s a free agent next summer, Grizzlies All-Star center Marc Gasol says he doesn’t want to leave Memphis … It may be the offseason, but Gerald Green is dunking like it’s mid-December … Speaking of the Suns, great feature here by the team’s website on coach Jeff Hornacek‘s rise to prominence … A gambling website says the Cavs have the second-best odds of landing LeBron James this summer … The Bulls might be trying to move their two first-round picks to either move up in the Draft or land a veteran scorer … The Jazz tried to bring Marcus Smart in for a workout four different times, but it never worked out …